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Connecting the Data

How the produce industry is embracing and benefiting from the Internet of Things

“What happens if those devices fall into a competitor’s hands?” asks Jones. “Security is of paramount importance; if you have insecure or missing devices, that can be a very nasty situation.”

Another problem can be the occasional cellular dead zone. If there’s no cell tower in range—as happens in some remote areas—there won’t be a transmission. The good news is that IoT devices always store data, so the data is not lost. It’s simply transmitted as soon as the device connects to a cell phone tower.

Then there’s the problem of keeping everyone in the food chain, from growers to consumers, satisfied. As Hansen of SafetyChain puts it: “The downfall of IoT technology is that the easier it becomes to get this information in real time, the higher the expectations.”

An Interconnected Future
What lies ahead for the growing relationship between the produce industry and smart technology? Some say the next year or two will see accelerated adoption of IoT and investment in capital equipment that can report data.

“That’s why companies like ours need to be positioning ourselves with the right APIs [application programming interfaces] and communication infrastructure, and the right data storage and analytic tools to [manage] the data and make it valuable,” says Hansen.

Mascarenhas of Telus sees expanded usage of IoT technology and solutions, which will increase the data available for analysis. “This will help technology providers and companies derive insight,” he says. “And that will result in more automation and can predict events or equipment failures in advance.”

Others foresee massive growth over the next year or two, with non-IoT devices becoming the exception rather than the rule. “It’s hard to buy a TV today that isn’t Internet-ready. The same thing will happen with produce, from the grower all the way to the retailer,” believes LinkFresh’s Jones. “The snowball is already rolling, it’s just a question of how big it will get.”


Cristina Adams is a freelance writer and editor with more than twenty years of experience. She writes for a number of business publications and websites.